General Interest

Buttercup

posted February 28th, 2015 by
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Buttercup

Buttercup

 

By Lauren Cavagnolo

 

With her painted pink toenails, an assortment of tutus and an attitude to match, Miss Piggy doesn’t have anything on Buttercup, the resident mini pig at Horizon Animal Hospital in Bixby.

“She is quite a character,” says Cari McDonald, DVM. “Nobody really owns her; she is her own pig.”Buttercup lives at the hospital along with eight cats and one dog who travels back and forth between home and work with Dr. McDonald.

 

“Amazingly, yes, they all get along,” McDonald says of her little menagerie.

McDonald says she has always liked pigs and had wanted one for a while. When she moved out of Tulsa to Bixby almost two years ago, she was finally able to get one.

McDonald got Buttercup when she was 8 weeks old, and she has been living at the clinic for just over a year. At first there was some concern about how clients and patients would react to Buttercup, but McDonald quickly realized it was not going to be a problem at all.

If Buttercup is in the waiting room, she is quick to greet anyone who comes in the clinic, human or otherwise. “There are people that she likes; she knows when they come in. She goes over to say hi to them and greets them,” McDonald says.

“We had been really worried about how people would perceive having a pig in the clinic, but it’s become funny to everyone,” McDonald says. “Enough that they come to see the pig now. If we have her put up for some reason, everyone is like, ‘Where’s the pig? We gotta see the pig. Where’s Buttercup?’”

In fact, Buttercup has made enough of a name for herself around town that she has her own Facebook page, Buttercup the Pig, with more than 300 fans. And Dr. McDonald is now commonly referred to as “the vet with the pig.”

“She’s become a little bit of a celebrity,” McDonald says. She has even been asked to make public appearances at community events.

At Tulsa Relay for Life, Buttercup was asked to kiss the person who raised the most money.

“She got kissed by a doctor. She wasn’t real cooperative,” McDonald recalls, laughing.

There were also many kids at Tulsa Relay for Life who enjoyed having their photos taken with Buttercup.

“That was the highlight; they thought   it was the best thing ever, and they     were just really enamored with her,” McDonald says.

Buttercup also made an appearance at the annual Green Corn Festival in Bixby.

“She was a big hit there,” McDonald says. “Everyone wanted to see her and pet her and say hi.”

Taking care of a mini pig

Having and caring for a mini pig is incomparable to having any other pet, says McDonald.

Buttercup weighs almost 50 pounds, which should be close to full grown for a mini pig. But this large animal won’t get a walk on a leash or be put out in the yard when it’s time to do her business. Instead, like her feline companions, Buttercup is litterbox trained.

Much like her canine friends, she loves her squeaky toy and a good belly rub. Though there are probably some picky dogs that would turn their noses up at some of Buttercup’s favorite foods.

“Her favorite treat is apples,” McDonald says. “She loves sweet potatoes, lettuce and carrots. We have only found a few things she won’t eat. She won’t eat celery.”

In the right mood, she can even be convinced to perform tricks for some of her favorite foods.

Mini pigs also need to have baths regularly, and “she’s not the easiest one to bathe,” McDonald says.

Someone who is considering keeping a mini pig as a pet should consider having the animal spayed or neutered, something McDonald highly recommends.

“She was having some behavioral issues before we spayed her,” McDonald says “After that, it improved drastically. It’s more of a health issue with indoor pigs since she’s not around any other pigs.

“There is nothing else like her. She does not fit into any category. She’s not what I would consider an easy pet to take care of. I can’t imagine if we didn’t have her here at the clinic or how someone would take care of her in a house setting. I don’t want to discourage people, but… you would have to be in the country.”

In fact, unless you are in an area zoned for agriculture, it would be illegal to own any farm animal—even miniature and dwarf varieties.

Miss Personality

McDonald says all of those clichés about pigs are clichés for a reason. “Eating like a pig? They do. Pig-headed? They are. All of those things really apply,” she says.

“She is very opinionated, very stubborn, but she is super smart,” McDonald says.

“Everyone is always surprised at how smart she is. We can’t keep any trashcans down on the floor because she is smart enough to figure out how to tip over any trashcan and get to it.”

To keep her stimulated, McDonald   has created puzzles for Buttercup, hiding treats in boxes and wrapping them with duct tape—something Buttercup has figured out how to get undone in about 30 seconds.

Much like a toddler, if she gets too quiet, she’s in trouble.

“If it gets silent, she is into something she shouldn’t be,” McDonald says. “She thinks she is being sneaky.”

McDonald and her staff all agree that Buttercup’s biggest goal is to get into the kennel to get to the dog food. “It’s her biggest thing of the day; that’s her challenge,” McDonald says.

There are two doors in the clinic, and Buttercup is always paying attention.

“She’ll listen, and if she happens to hear it not click and not lock, you’ll see her; she’ll sneak around the corner,” McDonald says. “But then she’ll get excited because she knows that door is open, and she’ll start grunting and oinking to get to that door. You’ll shut that door and she huffs.”

Buttercup has also been known to harass the dogs staying in the kennels at the clinic, according to some of the staff.

“She’ll walk in front of them really slow because she knows they can’t get out,” said Abrianna Jackson, kennel assistant at Horizon Animal Hospital. “She’ll tease them.”

She also may be a little confused about what species she actually belongs to.

“She’s afraid of my pig. The same way other dogs are afraid of her,” says Jackson, who once had to bring her own show pig, Winston, to the clinic.

“He was chasing her around trying to be friendly with her, and she was like, “Don’t touch me; get away from me!” laughs McDonald.

“She would squeal if he took a step even near her,” adds Jackson.

“It literally was like ‘He’s touching me!’ It was so funny,” McDonald says. “She’s fine with dogs and cats, but with the other pig, she was not happy.”

Sounds like Buttercup is still in search of her own Kermit.

Tick 411 – Everything You Need To Know

posted February 12th, 2015 by
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Tick 411

Tick 411

 

Everything You Need To Know About Treatment, Symptoms And Prevention

 

By Christy VanCleave

 

 

Ticks, more than just a nuisance, can carry diseases dangerous to people and animals.

That’s why it’s important for Green Country folks to know about ticks most common to the area and the viral, bacterial diseases and toxins they carry, as well as tick bite symptoms in both humans and dogs and how to treat and prevent them.

Here is the tick low-down to keep you and your pets tick free and healthy this summer.

Tick-born illnesses are caused by infection from a variety of pathogens. Because ticks can carry more than one disease-causing agent, patients can be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time. Diagnosis can be difficult since symptoms overlap with many common illnesses.

Reactions to tick bites may not show up for two to six weeks after the tick has been removed. Patients could experience one of many symptoms of the disease, and symptoms could appear intermittently.

Common symptoms in humans include headache, flu-like symptoms, stiff neck, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, nerve problems, abdominal pain and vomiting. If left untreated, the diseases can become severe and lead to other complications, even death.

The two most common tick-related diseases are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but they are also the easiest to diagnose due to the rash that usually accompanies them. Lyme has a very distinct bull’s eye rash and Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a wide-spread rash.

Doxycycline is the first line of treatment in both adults and children and is most effective if started right away—within five days of the first symptoms. (The disease can later be confirmed by specialized lab tests.)

Canine symptoms are a little different and may include recurrent lameness due to inflammation in the joints, lack of appetite, depression, kidney damage, a visible stiff walk with arched back, sensitivity to touch, difficulty breathing and fever.  A blood panel test and urinalysis can be performed for accurate diagnosis. Again, doxycycline is the first choice of treatment if caught early.

Should you find yourself or your dog with a tick, promptly remove it with tweezers and grip the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Never use a smoldering match, cigarette, nail polish or kerosene as they may irritate the tick and cause it to inject bodily fluids into the wound.

Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick since fluids may contain infection-causing organisms. The “head” does not stay in the skin, but the mouth parts may break off under the skin. Leave the mouth parts alone; they will expel on their own.

After removal, tape the tick to a calendar in case treatment is needed.  You can show the doctor for identification should it be necessary. It is also helpful to know how long it was attached if it was engorged.

While flea prevention has come a long way over the past 10 years, tick prevention hasn’t. Topical applications of Front-line or Advantix help, but take 24 hours to kill the tick once attached to the host. Some flea and tick shampoos with a pyrethrin base have a residue that lasts up to four weeks after application.

With Oklahoma’s high tick population, sound advice is to look over yourself and your pets after each walk or run in wooded or tall grass areas. With prevention in mind, and some basic knowledge of treatment, your summer outings can be fun, safe and tick free.

 

 

American Dog Tick

The American Dog tick is the most commonly-identified species responsible for transmitting rickettsia, which causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in humans. This tick can also transmit tularemia.

 

 

Brown Dog Tick

The Brown Dog tick has recently been identified as a reservoir of Rickettsia, causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichia canis. It is also responsible for Hepatozoon canis and Babesiosis (zoonotic). Dogs are primarily the host for this type of tick.

 

Black-Legged Tick (Deer Tick)

Commonly-known as the deer tick, the black-legged tick can transmit the organisms responsible for anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease.

 

 

Lone Star Tick

The Lone Star tick transmits Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii, causing human ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

 

 

Gulf Coast Tick

The Gulf Coast tick can transmit Rickettsia Parkeri rickettsiosis, a form of spotted fever. Adult ticks have been associated with transmission of R. parkeri to humans. It is also responsible for hepatozoonosis infection that comes in two forms, but this tick is only responsible for Hepatozoon Americanum.

Saving Nadia

posted February 5th, 2015 by
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Nadia

Saving Nadia

 

By Nancy Gallimore

 

Note:

Winner2This article was the 2015 Friends of Rescue Award winner of the Dog Writers Association of America.

 

I woke up this morning with a little black nose pressed into my neck. Nadia, my new foster puppy, apparently decided it would be a great idea to sleep in the human bed last night. I hug the puppy to my chest, and she sighs in contentment. With her sigh, the sweet, distinctive aroma of puppy breath fills the air around us, and I breathe it in, cherishing the scent that will turn into dog breath all too quickly.

 

It was only about a month ago that this happy, cuddly pup was just a small, dark shadow, standing lost in the middle of the road. The moment my Jeep made the turn toward home, the shadow darted away to hide in the bordering brush and trees. I barely saw the movement, but I knew—it was a dog.

I’ve seen it too many times—a dog or cat blindly bolting for cover because this unfamiliar situation into which it has been plunged seems to be filled with nothing but danger and fear. This road, the peaceful country road that takes me home, is apparently a favorite spot for people who want to abandon unwanted animals. It’s a quiet, somewhat hidden side road, but it has just enough homes along the way to pacify a guilty mind—to allow the “I found him a home in the country” lie to have a hope of validity.

I kept my eyes focused on the point where I had seen the little ghost dog leave the road. I slowed as I reached the right spot, and I scanned the brush for any sign of my new friend. The late afternoon sun slanted bright beams into the camouflage of tall grass, weeds and trees, and as I searched, I finally caught a glint of wide, terrified eyes.

She was crouched tensely against a tree trunk beneath some fallen branches, her little face and body tight with stress and panic. Her eyes were round with fear, and every muscle in her body was ready to bolt if I made one wrong move.

Her soft brindle-hued coat allowed her to easily melt into the wooded background and growing shadows. If she decided to move farther into the brush, I would quickly lose sight of her. Though I wanted to rush in to whisk her away to safety, any sudden movement would have closed the door of opportunity.

There is an art to helping frightened stray animals. A panicked dog or puppy seems to revert to a primal state where raw survival instinct replaces any previously known domestic inclinations and responses. This is the moment when the human has to abandon the notion of how to respond to a pet animal. All of the baby talk and promises of cookies bounce off of terrified ears and a numb heart.

So I parked my Jeep and walked a bit down the road from the puppy, keeping myself at an angle to her but always    keeping her in my peripheral vision. She,  still crouched and tense, did not take her eyes off of me, the potential predator.

I reached a spot about 5 feet down-road from the pup. Her hiding place was about 8 feet off the road, so I was far enough away that I wasn’t putting pressure on her. I sat down in the weeds and gravel because dog rescue never manages to take place in a comfortable location.  Again I kept my body at an angle to the puppy instead of facing toward her.

Well-meaning humans really tend to get it wrong when trying to approach a scared dog. We usually go straight at them, looking directly into their eyes. We immediately thrust a hand toward its face. We lean in and push our faces toward them, all the while babbling in a high-pitched, loud voice. Imagine yourself in a position that is about a foot or so off the ground and how that feels—not pleasant.

Then, we tend to ignore all of their “please don’t pressure me” signals. They glance away. They lick their lips. Their ears will be tense and generally pressed back. The whites of their eyes show. These are all signals that say, please, please back away, but most humans don’t know how to read them. This is how rescue opportunities are lost—or worse, how humans end up with a nasty bite.

So there I sat, glancing sideways at the puppy, talking to her in a low, soft voice, tossing bits of beef jerky near her hiding spot (well, sure, I always keep something enticing in the car!). After about five minutes, the grass rustled, and the young dog cautiously reached out to hungrily snap up a bite of jerky.

Ah, progress. Very, very slowly, I scooted a little bit closer to where the pup sat, watching. Then I just held steady again. I kept my body loose and relaxed. I stayed at an angle to the puppy. I did everything I could to communicate a message that said, “I mean no harm.”

I tossed more jerky, this time not quite so close to where she hid. She crept out to gobble a few bites and then watched me warily, very ready to bolt if I made one wrong move.

Cars passed behind me. Most ignored me completely; some slowed to see what I was up to. I just sat and prayed they would not stop to help. Any added pressure from the human world would send this puppy racing into the brush. I needed a “please ignore the crazy lady playing in the weeds” sign.

After about 20 minutes of slow progress toward the puppy with a non-stop shower of yummy jerky (I can’t lie… I had a few bites myself), I decided to take the pressure completely off. I scooted slowly away from her and then got up, still in slow-motion and walked back toward my car.

What I hoped would happen, did.

Trailing about 4 feet behind me, a young, thin, frightened puppy followed. She still wasn’t sure about me, but I was the best thing she had found in this big, scary world, and while she wasn’t ready to run into my arms, she sure wasn’t ready to let me go either.

As long as I stayed steady and didn’t move too quickly, I was about to see a puppy make a very difficult choice—the choice to trust this human.

I looked sideways at my little shadow and asked if she might like to come home with me. Her reply was to crawl underneath my Jeep and plop down. Oh, great. First, I got to scoot around in gravel and itchy weeds, now I would know the joy of lying on my belly on the asphalt and gravel under my car. No matter. She was well worth it.

So I stretched out on the road and scootched my way under the Jeep. I would like to say a public thank you to my very significant other, Jim, at this moment for putting a little lift kit on the Jeep. It sure made the scootching much easier. Scootch, by the way, is a technical term that anyone who rescues animals in the field knows all too well.

Now I’m lying on my belly, under my Jeep on a thankfully not busy stretch of road. I extended my fingertips to offer another little bit of jerky. She gently took it from me and swallowed it without even chewing. This was one hungry puppy.

Then I reached out to lightly tickle the side of her neck with my fingers. At this point, I would like to issue another public thank you for the combination of my mom and dad that gave me freakishly long arms. They come in darn handy.

While lightly petting her with my fingertips, I finally saw a change in the puppy’s posture. Her eyes softened. Her ears lowered and relaxed. She exhaled with a distinct, little sigh. This puppy was making a choice to trust me.

I will tell you that when I catch frightened little dogs like this, I do initially take hold of them by the scruff of their necks. That may sound rough to some, but I have one chance to get it right, and I can’t risk a struggle or a fear-inspired bite. It’s important to be very careful when approaching a stressed animal that may feel cornered or threatened. I have found that most small dogs, especially young puppies, will go very still when you take hold of the loose skin on the backs of their neck. Their own mothers know this. It is not painful, and I don’t use this little handle for long, but it can be effective for safely scooping up a scared puppy.

I rubbed the puppy’s neck, and then I gently took hold of her scruff. Together, we scootched out from under the Jeep, and I quickly hugged her close, promising her softly that everything was going to be OK now. The pup quickly decided that I was her port in the storm. She pressed into me without a struggle, completely surrendering her fate into my hands.

The once scared, starving, lost puppy quickly became happy, secure and very friendly. She now has dog friends that play with her. She has soft beds for snuggling. She has many arms that love to hug her. She has all of the food and treats she could ever hope for even though she still inhales every meal as if it might be her last. She has a name, Nadia, earned because she is very agile and loves to tumble.

Most importantly, she has a future.

Nadia is learning skills every day that will ensure she can be successfully placed with a loving family. She is a dear, gentle, smart little girl. Someone will be lucky to love her. I can’t wait to see that match happen.

In the meantime, I will continue to teach her where she should potty and where she shouldn’t. We’ll talk about Jim’s house shoes and why they really aren’t a chew toy. We’ll go for car rides and walks. We’ll approach new things and new situations together as she learns to be confident. We’ll have great fun together.

I will enjoy our snuggle time and her sweet puppy breath. And when she places in a new home? Well, I have whispered in her ear every single day since she arrived that even after she finds her perfect family, I will always, always be right here if she ever needs me.

And I will.

Author’s note: The methods I outline here work for me, but I have a great deal of experience handing animals and have been involved in animal rescue for decades. I encourage anyone approaching a frightened or injured animal to exercise great caution. If you are unsure, call the animal shelter or a rescue group for assistance.  No one needs a bite from a stray animal.

I am pleased to report that Nadia’s story does  have a “happily ever after.” She has been welcomed into a wonderful home where her life lessons continue. She is safe; she is loved, and she loves her new human. Here’s hoping the same for all of the Nadias out there.

Pet Protection

posted January 29th, 2015 by
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Pet Protection

Pet Protection

 

G.I. Wishes, a local nonprofit, coordinates disaster response plan for area animals.

 

by Megan Miers

 

In the aftermath of natural disasters, such as the devastating tornadoes that hit Moore and El Reno in May 2013, human beings weren’t the only ones who found themselves without a home. Often in situations such as these, pets can become lost or separated from their families, or are left to fend for themselves during a storm because owners are unable to evacuate them safely or bring them to a community shelter.

 

One Tulsa organization is working to change that. G.I.Wishes, a nonprofit group that matches military veterans with adoptable pets, is in the process of building a disaster response plan and team that will assist in evacuating, seeking veterinary treatment and finding temporary housing for pets in the event of a storm or other disaster.

“In Tulsa, we don’t have any provisions for animal rescue in the event of a disaster,” says J.R. Becker, operations director for GI Wishes. Because of public health concerns, other disaster-relief organizations have shied away from animal rescue services, but the G.I. Wishes plan aims to fill that void.

G.I. Wishes’ in-development disaster response plan, which has the backing of federal, state and local agencies, as well as the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and several Tulsa-area rescue groups and veterinary clinics, is expected to be fully operational by January 2015.

They will operate in conjunction with the Tulsa Health Department and under the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps, a group of specially trained volunteers and health professionals. First responders with the G.I. Wishes disaster team do not self-deploy, Becker says. Instead, they wait to be notified after a disaster declaration is made by the mayor or governor’s office to ensure a coordinated and efficient response.

The disaster response team will serve animals primarily in Tulsa County but may extend into other nearby areas such as Rogers County should the need arise, Becker says. Dogs and cats will be the main focus of G.I. Wishes’ disaster response plan—the organization does not currently have the capacity to aid larger animals such as horses. The network of first responders should be able to handle between 300 and 500 animals in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

The disaster response plan is just part of G.I. Wishes’ larger mission, which is to find loving homes for adoptable pets by matching them with military veterans. Since its inception in 2011, G.I. Wishes has adopted out about 30 pets, Becker says.

Public events, social media, information provided by area Veterans’ Affairs centers and veterans’ counselors have all helped spread the word about G.I. Wishes and its mission, according to Becker. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, he says.

Veterans seeking a companion animal through G.I. Wishes start by calling the organization and discussing what type of dog or cat they are looking for. Becker and other volunteers will then search area rescue groups for available pets that fit those descriptions.

Prospective owners then fill out an application and are asked to provide two personal references, as well as information for their family veterinarian. Factors such as the age and energy level of both the pet and the prospective owner are taken into consideration in order to ensure a good match.

If the veteran already has another pet at home, then G.I. Wishes will have him or her bring the pet to meet the new one at a neutral location to determine how well the animals get along with each other.

G.I. Wishes also has a separate application for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. In those instances, G.I. Wishes will contact the veteran’s therapist and physician to help determine whether or not he or she is ready to take on the responsibility of a pet.

Becker, a Vietnam veteran, longtime animal rescue volunteer and proud owner of three Shelties and two cats, says pets adopted out through G.I. Wishes have brought about many positive changes in their new owners, especially those who are dealing with depression or conditions such as PTSD.

“The change in these veterans is a complete 180—they’ve gotten out of their depression, and it’s like a self-reward,” he says. “Veterans from my generation were told to suck it up and deal with it, but we’ll never allow that to happen to the younger guys.”

He says pets often are the first to notice when their owners are upset or worried and can help calm them just by being there.

“Animals are soothing, and they can pick up on stress—they will nudge you or put a paw on you to let you know everything’s OK,” he says.

Once a pet has been adopted through G.I. Wishes, the organization will help with coverage of that pet’s basic veterinary care for the first year. G.I. Wishes also helps find foster homes for pets of veterans who are deployed or hospitalized and regularly updates owners until they are able to return home to their four-legged friends.

In cases in which a veteran passes away or is no longer able to care for the pet due to other circumstances, G.I. Wishes will take the pet back and foster it until a new family is found.

“We will keep that pet with us until it’s adopted out,” Becker says. “We are a no-kill organization.”

Disaster Safety Tips for Pets

Planning ahead will help you keep your pet safe in the event of a disaster. To ensure your pet’s safety, follow these tips from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and the Humane Society of the United States:

Make sure your pet is equipped with proper identification tags. Ask your pet’s vet about implanting a microchip for identification purposes.

Have a leash, collar and pet carrier ready for each pet. Familiarize your pet with evacuation procedures and pet carriers. Carriers should have room enough for two small bowls, a litter pan (cats) and for the pet to stand and turn around.

Label each carrier with your identification and contact information.

Assemble an animal evacuation kit containing essentials such as several days’ worth of dry and canned food; bottled water; medications; first aid supplies; proof of ownership; emergency contact numbers; and copies of your pet’s veterinary records.

In case you are away when a disaster occurs, place stickers on entrances to your home or property to notify neighbors and rescue personnel that animals are on your property and where to find evacuation supplies.

To facilitate evacuation of your pets, provide a list near your evacuation supplies of the number, type and location of your animals, including their favorite hiding spots.

Have leashes and muzzles where rescue personnel can easily access them. Keep in mind pets can become unpredictable when frightened.

Designate a willing neighbor or nearby friend to tend to your animals in the event a disaster occurs when you are not home. This person should have a key to your home and be familiar with your pets, as well as know where evacuation supplies are kept.

How You Can Help

For more information on G.I. Wishes’ disaster response plan, how to adopt an animal through G.I. Wishes or how to donate or volunteer, visit www.GIWishes.org, call (918) 477-7606 or send an e-mail to [email protected] More information also can be found on G.I. Wishes’ Facebook page.

A Mavis Pearl Update

posted January 12th, 2015 by
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Mavis

A Mavis Pearl Update

By Anna Holton-Dean

 

Thanks to continued support and generosity, Mavis Pearl has her very own replica stuffed Bulldogs that are ‘distinctly Mavis.’

 

We recently brought you the story of Lisa Bain, founder of the nonprofit Joy In The Cause, and her 3-year-old Bulldog Mavis Pearl, whose schedule is probably as packed as yours.

As a registered therapy dog, Mavis Pearl frequents schools, hospitals, nursing homes and hospice centers throughout the Tulsa area. She is a part of Therapy Dogs, Inc., and Caring Canines, participates in the READ program and attends Champs classes for special needs teens and adults at K9 Manners & More. If that’s not enough, she also makes house calls on request.

And she does it all in her beloved pink tutu—really, she loves it. Lisa says, “If she doesn’t have something to do, she meets me at the door with her tutu in her mouth. To get her out of that tutu is like an act of God.”

She always wears it while visiting patients, serving in her role as ambassador of Joy In The Cause.

Quite the visible trademark, patients get their own Mavis Pearl stuffed dog—complete with pink tutu—thanks to generous sponsors and volunteers.

It all began when Lisa was asked to visit a little girl who was sick. “I wanted to take something,” she says. “Someone had given me some little stuffed bulldogs, and I just put a tutu on it and a bandana that made it look like Mavis. I wanted to make this little girl’s last days happy. You would have thought I had given her solid gold or a Disney Cruise or something.

“She was elated; that little dog meant the world to her. I realized how much these little dogs meant, and it just grew from there.”

A true labor of love, volunteers come together for Make-a-Mavis parties. The stuffed dogs are dressed in handmade clothes, prayed over and blessed before being handed out to patients.

Until recently, the stuffed dogs did not all originate from the same place. One Bulldog may not look exactly like the next.

But thanks to continued support and generosity, a company is now making stuffed Mavis Pearls that look exactly like her, with her markings and everything that makes them “distinctly Mavis.”

“They will be tagged with her tag and Joy In The Cause,” Lisa says. “They are being made as I speak. These dogs will go with us on our visits to chemo units, hospitals, etc. Each patient gets one made just for him or her.

However, the details like handmade clothing are still unique. If a patient has a request, “we make it,” Lisa says. “Today, we had a lung cancer patient who wanted a clown Mavis, and one for a bride and groom who are battling cancer.”

Since becoming a nonprofit last fall, Joy In The Cause has given out 3,800 stuffed Mavis dogs.

And Lisa gives the credit to the individuals, groups and businesses that make it possible for every single patient to have a free Mavis dog, from financial gifts to time making the clothing to the prayers and blessings.

“For instance, Ark Wrecking sponsored a month’s worth of dogs for Tulsa Cancer Institute. Rich and Cartmill sponsored dogs for every child at Little Lighthouse. A doctor at TCI is sponsoring a month and wants the colors in teal for ovarian cancer,” Lisa says. “The possibilities are endless, and we love getting the sponsors involved in the process. We send them pictures of where the dogs go; they even come out sometimes to help deliver the dogs.”

While on the surface, they may seem like a simple stuffed animal, Lisa has witnessed them turn into miracle stories that get people through the toughest of times, affecting everyone involved.

“It truly takes a village,” she says, “and we have a precious village of angels who lovingly make these dogs and send them out with a prayer and a blessing. They are like little prayer dogs that just encourage each recipient, as well as the person who made them. It goes full circle!

“We have even sent stuffed Mavis dogs to troops overseas in Poland, France, etc., and we’ve received pictures of them hanging out of soldiers’ backpacks. They have even traveled the globe to those going through illness… They love them.

“When I walk in and see them tied to an IV pole, snuggled under a child’s arm during a blood draw or as they sleep, or see an elderly patient taking the dog everywhere through treatment, even one on the mammogram machine to get a gal through her first mammogram… there are just no words.

“The E.R. unit even has a bucket of Mavis dogs and call ‘code Mavis’ when a child in trauma needs one. Oh, the stories there, they blow my mind. I’m just amazed by it all, and we are so grateful.”

For more information or to get involved with sponsorship, visit joyinthecause.org and click the sponsorship page.

A Cat Tale – ‘Purr’sonalities

posted December 28th, 2014 by
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Cat Tale

A Cat Tale

Purr’sonalities

 

by Camille Hulen

 

“Are all redheads short-tempered? Are all blondes dumb?” (Please don’t answer with a blond joke!)

I ask this question because people searching for a new cat to replace a recently departed one frequently see a picture and say, “That looks just like Fluffy; I want her!” Sorry, folks, you will probably be disappointed. Although two cats may look alike, they can be very different. Every cat is unique.

True purebred cats do have some distinguishing characteristics.  Siamese are usually more vocal; Ragdolls are probably more laid back; Sphinx are more active, and Tortoise… well, maybe bipolar. However, these are stereotypes and are not always accurate. Besides, I prefer to think that most of us deal with the rescue of mixed breeds.

Let us consider some examples. Don’t the cats in this picture look alike? They are my own cats: Duncan and Mister. I say that Duncan chose Mister from a litter of kittens because he looked like him!  Although they are both gray and white, they are very different. Duncan is a real lover and lap cat. He is ever-present, both with us and visitors. Mister is a loner who would prefer to be outside. Duncan favors my husband and cuddles with him every night, while Mister comes to me for love. Duncan is compliant; Mister is defiant.

Consider my black cats. KatMandu is an “in your face” kind of guy with a mind of his own.  He confronts most every cat who crosses his path. Needless to say, it was KatMandu who trained my puppies to respect all cats. On the other hand, Darth is a loner, much like Mister, but as he ages, demands more and more attention. Pooh is a sweet, gentle girl who asks for little and gets along with everyone. All are black and have been raised in the same home environment, yet they are very different.

Even kittens from the same litter are unique and exhibit special traits at an early age. Although I could scarcely tell two identical kittens apart while I bottle-fed them, Sherpa was so-named because he was an adventurer who climbed every mountain, beginning with the stairs. His sister Pearl was quiet and timid. They still look so much alike that their adoptive parents refer to them as “the twins,” and they are still most distinguishable by their behavior.

Another example is from a different litter. One orange Tabby was so gentle he is called “Mel,” short for “Mellow Yellow,” while his white brother immediately showed no fear of my 90-pound dog and loved to be nuzzled by him. Yes, you might say that most orange Tabbies are mellow, but don’t tell Sugar Ray (a survivor who fought for his life) that!

Not only do cats have distinct “purrsonalities,” but they react to different people differently. I have seen the shyest of cats that usually run and hide from strangers nuzzle up to others and beg for attention. And, just as humans do, cats react to situations differently. I’m sure that you have seen your own loving, little pussycat turn into a real tiger when she visits the vet.

The purpose of this article is to ask you to be open-minded in seeking your new fuzzy companion. Don’t “judge a book by its cover;” that is, don’t look at just the cat’s picture. Perhaps the best advice is to let the cat choose you. Then love and cherish its idiosyncrasies.